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Old 05-19-13, 09:35 PM   #1
fizbiz
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Driver wrecked my primary transportation (my bike)...should I be compensated...?

So one month ago a driver took an illegal left turn and I T-boned the side of his car, went through window, and left a nice imprint of my body on the body panels. My frame is bent, and being a 650 dollar bike, it has been deemed totaled. I sent insurance company quote from bike shop but they claim they still have not received police report. I do not have insurance because I do not own a motor vehicle, so I will not be compensated until the driver's insurance company pays up. I was not seriously injured in any obvious way, so medical expenses are not in the picture. My main question is whether or not I should expect to be compensated for transportation costs for the duration that I am without a bicycle? I cannot afford another bike until I get the money (I'm on student loans). I'm thinking about starting a fuss about my time being worth money too. I am a grad student and have lost huge chunks of my day that I need to study for my Dental Boards, classes, treatment plan patient cases, etc. Not to mention actually having to see patients. They compensate you for time lost from work. I've lost on average 1-2 hours of my time, 6 days a week because I am stuck on public transportation. Sometimes I've lost quite a bit more because I can't justify coming home in between classes so I get stuck at school for hours on end because going to my apartment and back during rush hour could take me over 2+ hours vs 30 min on my bike.. It's not something I would bring up if I didn't feel like they are stalling. I've never had to deal with this situation and am looking for input from people who unfortunately have.

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Old 05-19-13, 09:48 PM   #2
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Insurance companies lie and low ball claims all the time. I would contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
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Old 05-19-13, 10:06 PM   #3
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I hope you documented your lost time and have receipts of your medical and bike expenses.
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Old 05-19-13, 10:26 PM   #4
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If you had a car, rental of a replacement would be covered, so it's totally reasonable to expect compensation for your transportation expenses. It may not make sense to retain an attorney if the stakes are that low, but you should at least consult one (usually free) to check on your options.

Either way, it's the driver or owner of the car that owe you compensation, not his insurance company, so if you don't hire an attorney add up the bill, tell him that you'll be adding travel expenses while waiting for payment, (send a certified letter to that effect) and give him 10 days to pay up. Otherwise, go to small claims court and sue the driver. That will motivate him to press the insurance company to settle promptly.

If whatever the insurance company offers isn't timely or satisfactory, you can pass on it and press your claim against the driver. Remember it;s the driver that hit you, not the insurance company.

BTW- be careful here, you hit the car, not the other way around. So if the police report doesn't mention that the illegal turn and causing the collision or the evidence (photos?) doesn't make clear what happened, you and not the driver may be presumed to be at fault. (at least that would be the case here in NY).
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Old 05-19-13, 10:41 PM   #5
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Bicycles are part of HOME insurance or renters insurance that most seem to deem not necessary.
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Old 05-19-13, 10:46 PM   #6
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^^
+1

Talked to you LBS about a rent to own bicycle. Rent the bicycle on a weekly rate and make sure the driver and his insurance company knows your claim increases each week by the weekly rental rate.
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Old 05-19-13, 10:48 PM   #7
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Bicycles are part of HOME insurance or renters insurance that most seem to deem not necessary.
Not in a traffic collision in most, maybe all US states.

If the bike were stolen, then home owners or renters insurance.
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Old 05-19-13, 10:59 PM   #8
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I think you'll have a hard time getting compensation for time lost. Depending on what evidence you have in your favor, you can almost certainly get the bike replaced and possibly transportation costs you incur until you get a new vehicle. It really depends a lot on what you can show happened. I'd echo the advice to take it to small claims if you don't seem to be getting anywhere. Sounds like you probably aren't in a position to retain a lawyer, and small claims court keeps them out of it and is far more accessible for most people. Look up what the procedure is in your state, but it's usually pretty straightforward.
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Old 05-19-13, 11:05 PM   #9
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However, small claims depends on the ability of the other driver to pay. There has to be assets to collect. You really need to consult an attorney.
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Old 05-19-13, 11:08 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
"Bicycles are part of HOME insurance or renters insurance that most seem to deem not necessary."

Not in a traffic collision in most, maybe all US states.

If the bike were stolen, then home owners or renters insurance.
Home owners and renters insurance generally also has a liability component that does apply in the case of a traffic collision if the cyclist is the one at fault and is found liable for damages.

But in this case it appears that the car driver was at fault so there should be no liability claim against the cyclist.

The OP should certainly inform the driver and his insurance company of his increased transportation expenses, such as a rental bike, so that they are aware that the claim will get more expensive the longer they delay.
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Old 05-19-13, 11:33 PM   #11
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Home owners and renters insurance generally also has a liability component that does apply in the case of a traffic collision if the cyclist is the one at fault and is found liable for damages.
Most likely, only if the cyclist does not have auto insurance.

The cyclist might also be able to collect from his own home insurance if the motorist is not insured. But then there is that high deductible at about the cost of the bicycle.

But for OP case, motorist is at fault and has auto insurance.
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Old 05-19-13, 11:38 PM   #12
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However, small claims depends on the ability of the other driver to pay. There has to be assets to collect. You really need to consult an attorney.
In this case the insurance company still ends up paying, they just do not get to negotiate the amount.
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Old 05-20-13, 06:40 AM   #13
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You need to make sure they get the police report. I don't think they would normally pay for time lost, but you may be able to get whatever they would have paid for a rental car during the time without your bike.
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Old 05-20-13, 07:37 AM   #14
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If necessary hand walk the police report over to the ins agent. And yes tell the agent the cost is going up daily!! Finally if that dont work, get a cycling lawyer on the case.
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Old 05-20-13, 01:15 PM   #15
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However, small claims depends on the ability of the other driver to pay. There has to be assets to collect. You really need to consult an attorney.
I'm going to go against the grain here and suggest that an attorney isn't needed for small claims at all. I've been through the proceedings, and it is remarkably easy. It's a plus to get a consultation if you can afford it (a free consultation likely won't cover what OP would find useful), but it really, truly isn't necessary. That's one thing I love about small claims... it's a really accessible way for people with little money to find some sort of justice.
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Old 05-20-13, 01:30 PM   #16
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I'm going to go against the grain here and suggest that an attorney isn't needed for small claims at all. I've been through the proceedings, and it is remarkably easy. It's a plus to get a consultation if you can afford it (a free consultation likely won't cover what OP would find useful), but it really, truly isn't necessary. That's one thing I love about small claims... it's a really accessible way for people with little money to find some sort of justice.
Agreed, used small claims myself many times for many things.

As to the actual question the OP asked, standard operating procedure for everyone I know when dealing with a claim with an auto insurance company is always to demand a rental car be provided until the claim is settled even if you have another car you own to drive because it makes the insurance company settle the claim fast and accurate because every day they twiddle their thumbs it costs them money. Like EVERYONE up here where I live knows that and does it. Unfortionatly, it might be a little harder to make the same thing stick with a bike rental, but it wouldn't keep from trying. There has to be some place in your area that at least rents out cruiser bikes to tourists or such and you could get a price from them for the per-day rental and their contact info and try to get the insurance company to PAY DIRECTLY to the bike rental place (that is how they do it up here with car rentals) by the day until your claim is settled. Doesn't hurt to try.
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Old 05-20-13, 03:43 PM   #17
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I was unclear. I know that there is no attorney needed for small claims, I was thinking that a consult would be worthwhile so as to make clear what is allowed to be compensated, how to document costs, how to make sure the insurance company is wrapped in and so on. So simply stated, seek advise on how to best set up your case and preserve your rights.
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Old 05-20-13, 03:50 PM   #18
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It is true that if you can work out a consult, it certainly can't hurt. I think you can get a lawyer's help with everything up to but not including the actual trial, IIRC.
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Old 05-20-13, 04:34 PM   #19
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I think I agree with CB on this ,but I think I would tell them they can get you a bike or rent you a car their chioce
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Old 05-21-13, 02:23 AM   #20
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I'd go ahead and file in small claims court. Filing fees are not typically very high. Odds are reasonable the insurance company will then pay you for the bicycle; I am skeptical that you will collect for time lost but it may not hurt to ask.

I went to small claims court a number of years ago after a motorist's insurance company repeatedly "lost" my claims. They miraculously found everything the day before the court date and agreed to pay if I did not make them go to court. (I went to court to avoid a loss by default.) I will admit my case was more typical (i.e. easier for judge to understand) - I was suing for damage to a parked car hit by the defendant.

When I was hit on my bicycle, AAA asked many questions before agreeing to pay. I think it was a combination of incompetent police, incompetent insurers, and stalling.

By any legal standard, if your motorist was making a left turn s/he legally should have yielded. In actual observation locally, different police officers and judges have different rules when bicyclists are involved - many think bicyclists do not have legal rights to use the road and are automatically at fault, while others apply the law as written. Again, you have little to lose, but be prepared to explain the law very carefully and simply.

From my experience, your claim is so small the insurance company won't defend in court, and they will pay you in 2-3 months. If you can't afford a cheap bike off Craigslist in the meantime, you are probably SOL for time wasted (hence you want to file now).
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Old 05-21-13, 02:19 PM   #21
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Insurance companies lie and low ball claims all the time. I would contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
The dollar figure here isn't high enough to interest a lawyer, and even if it was, they'd want a third of whatever was recovered -- so that's best saved as a last resort.

If the evidence is clear who was at fault, take the guy to small claims court. His insurance company may decide to settle rather than deal with that, and if you do win, they'll be the ones paying (unless he has a deductible, in which case he'll pay that part.)

You're certainly right about what insurance companies do, however.
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Old 05-21-13, 09:21 PM   #22
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Advice on how to pursue your claim, from a pair of lawyers:

A Guide to Understanding Bicycle Claims in New York

Since laws vary from state to state, the advice given may not apply if you don't live in New York.
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Old 05-21-13, 09:33 PM   #23
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The key here is the police report. Since the OP hit the car, he would be presumed to be at fault. He therefore has the burden of showing that the driver's illegal or unsafe turn created a situation where the collision was unavoidable.

This is where the police report is key. A favorable report that mentions the driver's left turn, maybe the traffic light, or otherwise assigns fault to the driver, and/or has a driver admission, and best yet if the driver was cited for making an unsafe left, while failing to yield. Without evidence supporting this view of the accident and shifting liability to the driver, the OP will be at a severe disadvantage trying to convince the judge that the driver caused the accident.

One thing that does work strongly in the OPs favor is the relatively small claim. If he sues the driver, the driver's insurance company has to represent him in court. The cost to the insurance company to send an attorney out to defend is greater than the claim, so they'll be highly motivated to move this to settlement before the response date.
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Old 05-22-13, 06:31 PM   #24
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Driver took a left where at an intersection with a "NO LEFT TURN" sign. He didn't make an unsafe left, it was downright illegal at any time under any circumstance. Fault is clear, and was admitted to officer and is in the report. There were two witnesses as well. I will give them until the end of this week and then file a claim in small claims court. Do I file against the driver or the insurance company?
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Old 05-22-13, 06:44 PM   #25
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Driver took a left where at an intersection with a "NO LEFT TURN" sign. He didn't make an unsafe left, it was downright illegal at any time under any circumstance. Fault is clear, and was admitted to officer and is in the report. There were two witnesses as well. I will give them until the end of this week and then file a claim in small claims court. Do I file against the driver or the insurance company?
You file against the driver. The insurance company can support and assist him (if they bother), but they can't send lawyers to represent him in small claims court. Given the circumstances, only dumb and stubborn people wouldn't settle this. That NO LEFT TURN sign pretty much guarantees he's going to lose.
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